Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Best Ways to Have a Great Start to your School Year

 Summer is quickly coming to an end, and school will be starting soon. Are you feeling ready to start school again? I know I am not ready; I am going to miss the relaxing time of summer! But today I am going to share with you several different ways that you can have a great start to your school year. So let’s not waste any more time and get started with the meat of our topic today! 



    One of the most important things we have to think about at the start of the school year are the procedures of the classroom. Before school starts, I like to sit in my decorated classroom and think about all the different procedures that might come up, and I make a list of every single one I can think of. I have a student-led classroom, so on the first day of school, I have my students sit down in a circle on our carpet, I ask them to think of the different procedures that might come up in our classroom, and we all start to make a list together. But I am always thinking of the list I created, and will plant seeds to procedures that I want to make sure we cover at the start of the year. The students will think of how a procedure needs to look and be done, then we’ll do lots of practice with that procedure. We’ll talk about the correct way the procedure should look, and the wrong way the procedure might look. The most important thing to do with procedures is practice, practice, practice! Also, be sure to stop at any time throughout your year and create a new procedure if something new comes up. Then be sure to practice that new procedure until it becomes second nature to your students. 




    


    At the start of the school year, I love to do lots of team building and STEM activities. These help the students get to know each other, and also lets you learn a lot about your students. You will quickly learn who your leaders are, and which students are going to sit back and not help very much. I love using these types of activities throughout the year, not just at the start of the year!


 


    Saving Fred and Gumdrop Building are a couple of my favorite activities at the start of the year. They are simple to prepare, but the students always love them! I usually spread out the different activities throughout the first week of school so the students always have fun things to look forward to, and it also helps them to continue to get to know each other. 



    The first few days of school I also like to have my students do some different All About Me activities. These are great ways for myself and all of my students to get to know each other. After the students have had time to complete the All About Me activities, I usually have everyone share their projects with the class. I never force anyone to do it, but I do always encourage students to share because it really helps everyone to learn more about each other. 



    Another great activity to have your students do is a writing sample. I love to have my students write about the goals they have for the school year. It’s fun to include a whimsical craft to go with the writing that students are working on, and it also makes a great display for the classroom at the start of the school year. This is also a great activity that can be done through a word processing program. Just find a way to have your students write in the first few days of school. This is also a great assessment to see where your students are with their writing. This writing sample can then be used to see the growth of your students throughout the school year. 


  


    From the very first day of the school year, I like to start doing class meetings. This is a great time for my students to share about themselves, and also share how they are feeling at different times of the year. At the start of the year, I like to have my students do a lot of “get to know you” type activities in our meetings. The beginning of the year is the time that I teach all the procedures of the meeting. As the year goes on, we are able to use our class meetings as a time to discuss things that are happening in the classroom. We can discuss good things that are happening, and we are also able to use the time to discuss challenges that are happening in the classroom. 



    The final thing that I use to make our school year great is teaching my students about our assignment slides. I use these slides at different times in our day. We have a slide for every subject that we complete in our day. I like to include the directions, as well as the materials that the students will need for the assignment. Using assignment slides keeps you from having to give directions over and over again. You are able to just refer back to the slide with all the directions. This gives the ownership back to your students and puts the responsibility back on them. This has been a wonderful addition to our daily routines, and it really helps keep me sane because I no longer have to constantly stop what I am doing and give directions again! 


    Back to school is a time that we really need to focus on building our relationships with our students. It is also a time to teach our students about our classroom rules and procedures. The start of the school year is also a great time to focus on seeing where your students are in the different subjects we teach. Today we talked about several different ways to start our year off strong. What ideas are you going to try when you return to school?


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